Volleyball - Cadets’ campaign ends in five-set thriller
BOSTON, MASS. – A late rally by Simmons College brought the curtain down on the 2011 Norwich University volleyball season.
Coach Amanda Cuiffo's squad, compiling the fifth consecutive winning season for the program at 16-10, got out of the gate fast inside the Holmes Sports Center. NU rolled to early leads in the first and second games and held off Shark comebacks to win 25-21 and 25-21. The fifth-seeded Maroon and Gold were poised to close the Great Northeast Athletic Conference's fourth seed out in three straight, leading game three 20-11 before the home side got a big comeback sparked by strong defensive play and the revival of its offense.
Simmons (20-9) scored 15 of the final 17 points in game three to win 26-24. NU went back and forth with them in game four before the home side pulled away for a 25-20 win. Game five was just as nip-and-tuck. The Cadets rallied back from an early 5-1 deficit to tie it at 5-5, but Simmons, with senior middle hitter Meghan Flynn leading the way, bounced back to take the game and match with a 15-11 decision.
Norwich's offense was led by the upperclasswoman trio of senior middle hitters Ivana Batur (Zadar, Croatia) and April Byllaardt (Stormville, N.Y.) and junior right side hitter Gabrielle Miller (Grove City, Ohio). Batur hammered 19 kills, tying her second-best single-match effort this season, to go with three solo blocks and four block assists, while Byllaardt added 12 kills and four service aces. Miller chipped in 12 kills and 29 assists.
NOTES: Byllaardt closed her career ranked first in career service aces (216) and second in blocks (197) and kills (661). … Batur's 278 kills this season marked the second-highest single-season effort in program history, trailing only Thea Evans' 293 last year. Her 146 career blocks are third-best all-time, while her 474 career kills are also third. … Right side hitter Brittany Palmer (York, Pa.), who also saw her collegiate career close, ended second in career digs (846).